For sachet or stick pack packaging, the Allen MLi-TE multi-lane thermal transfer printer is a top solution for coding individual expiration dates or lot codes upstream. Multiple lanes can print quickly and simultaneously, utilizing one ribbon to avoid multiple consumables running out at various, unsynchronized times. The Allen MLi’s configurable design requires only one controller and one consumable for up to 12-lanes of print, greatly simplifying packaging machine maintenance and reducing downtime.
Once your packet is coded, sachet or stick pack packaging requires a specialized system to form the packaging receptacle, fill the product into the packet, and seal the ends to secure the product for transport. These systems are known as FFS - form, fill, and seal machines - and they come in two different varieties: (1) Vertical (VFFS) and (2) Horizontal (HFFS). Vertical uses gravity to aide in the filling process, where horizontal is generally high speed by using mechanical methods for filling.
Today we’re doing a Q&A with an expert stick pack OEM, Viking Masek, to cover the key points to evaluate when selecting stick pack equipment to integrate with a marking and coding solution like the Allen MLi-TE.
Stick pack machines are perfect for packaging a wide variety of powder, granular, and liquid products. Powder products can be dense, fine, loose, and particulate materials. Liquids can be substances of differing viscosities including water-like fluids, gels, and pastes.
Stick packaging is very popular in many industries, especially with powdered drink mixes, liquid and powder pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, and granular ingredients like sugar. Contract packagers in the medical and dietary supplement industries also highly favor stick packaging equipment.
Single serve and controlled dosage packaging is very popular with todays’ consumers, spanning across many generational demographic groups. Millennials and young professionals love stick packs because they are portable, convenient, and fit unobtrusively into their busy lives. The aging population uses stick packs because they are lightweight and often feature easy-open options like tear notches, making it easier for those with limited dexterity to handle and use the product. Moms and dads are attracted to stick packs because they can easily feed their children with a single, easy to open, controlled serving size package that requires little clean up and virtually no utensils.
When it comes to selecting the proper stick packaging equipment for your unique product, there are experts available to guide you every step of the way. However, there are a few major considerations they will take into account when recommending machinery. These include:
All stick pack machines can utilize the following product fillers:
Stick pack machines can be built to accommodate different stick widths (most popular are 23 mm and 35 mm), convenient designs including pour spouts and specialty die-cut shapes, and can also feature easy-open options like tear notches and micro-perforations. Available with IQ/OQ pharma construction, stick packaging machinery is a great solution for pharmaceutical packaging.
Often stick pack clients desire to print expiration dates or lot codes on their stick packaging. There are many multi-lane printing options available, including Diagraph’s new Allen MLi-TE multi-lane thermal transfer printer.
First, do your research. This can be done via the internet, on the phone, or in person through your professional and personal networks. Attend industry trade shows and strive to see available equipment in person. When you’ve narrowed down your packaging OEM choices and are looking for more details in the form of a proposal, prepare by defining key points the equipment manufacturer will need so to provide the most accurate configuration for your specific needs. The key items that must be defined differ from powder to liquid products.
Remember that with most capital purchases, and especially when it comes to a piece of equipment you will rely on for a vital part of your production process, you often get what you pay for. Consider not only the initial purchase price of the piece of machinery, but total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO will include costs for things like training, maintenance and parts, installation, and tax implications.
Located in Southeast Wisconsin, Viking Masek manufactures, sells, and services flexible packaging machinery for food and non-food industries worldwide. Our focus on packaging innovation and investments in both technology and people makes us uniquely poised to take on unique packaging equipment projects, both large and small. Have questions about flexible packaging? Contact us today for a free Packaging Equipment Consultation.
When it comes to contract packaging, companies are increasingly looking to consolidate their code printing requirements. Using multiple devices to print onto different sized containers and different material types is costly and inefficient. Companies now need to offer a full-service solution to be relevant and competitive.
Coding requirements may differ between the primary and secondary packaging. These requirements include printing on different substrates such as plastic, cardboard and metal. Traceability requirements such as visible, permanent codes to manage product recalls may not differ, but code sizes will likely be different. You could be wasting time and money if you are using multiple printers to achieve these requirements.
Contract packagers also need to support packaging trends such as new substrates, packaging product shapes and sizes and environmental initiatives such as reducing materials. For example, packaging a product that offers single serving portions as well as the standard size portions requires a coder which can print the same information on different packaging shapes and sizes. The information must be accurate, legible and permanent to ensure traceability—it’s no use if a code can be smudged or wiped off a particular substrate.
Many contract packaging companies are introducing manufacturing techniques to cut costs and improve competitiveness. By implementing the right printing technology into your contract packaging business, you can significantly cut costs, remain competitive and offer more to your customers.
You can significantly cut costs in the following areas with a single printing solution:
Diagraph’s Linx continuous inkjet printers (CIJ), thermal inkjet, large character printers, laser coders and thermal transfer overprinters can print information such as text, dates, barcodes and logos on a wide range of porous and non-porous substrates. This enables both primary and secondary coding with easy-to-use, easy-to-maintain printers, making your contract packaging operation more efficient and cost effective.
Find out how Diagraph can help you expand your contract packing capabilities by contacting us.
How do you Print on a Sachet or Stickpack?
By Steve Dods, Automated Labeling Products (ALP) & Thermal Transfer Overprinter (TTO) Products Manager
Sachets are packets or sealed pouches that contain liquids, gels, or powders and typically sealed on four (4) sides. Stickpacks are tube-like packaging that is sealed on two ends with a continuous seam side. These convenient packaging methods are highly utilized in the food and beverage additive markets, but can be seen in pharmaceutical as well as cosmetic industries.
This packaging type requires a specialized system to form the packaging receptacle, fill the product into the packet, and seal the ends to secure the product for transport. These systems are known as FFS, Form, Fill, and Seal machines, and they come in two different varieties. Once is Vertical, or VFFS, and the other is Horizontal, or HFFS. Vertical uses gravity to aide in the filling process, where horizontal is generally high speed by using mechanical methods for filling.
Since sachets and stick packs can be sold individually, there can be the need to print information about expiration date and lot code onto the individual products. Since it is far less accurate to accomplish this task once they are filled, due to irregularities in shape and placement control, it is done "upstream". Upstream of the fill process is where the film or web is unwound from a large roll. This is the best location to mark and code the product - before it is individualized in the process. There are many ways to accomplish this type of date / lot / id coding, but there is one that stands out amongst the rest.
In marking the products in the web matrix, there are several "lanes" of product on the master web. That means higher fill rates by handling multiple products in each indexing move through the process. A typical number of adjacent products is 5 or 6, but some are as few as 4 or as high as 12. In rare instances, lanes numbers exceeding 12 have been realized. Due to these high number of prints required at each indexing interval, traditional methods of marking are usually ruled out.
Of the possible marking methods, there are a few that have been used in practice. One is to brute force out the marking process by using multiple ink jet print heads. This is somewhat difficult to manage, as there is a requirement for non-porous ink to mark the web, which tends to have issues with the short decap time and fast dry times that can clog or require higher maintenance. Most objections from OEM FFS manufacturers and end users is the mess and chemicals in close proximity to dispensing foods and powders.
Another method is to use TTO (Thermal Transfer Overprinting) to traverse across the web to mark an indelible print using a clean ribbon method. This works, but the throughput rates suffer due to the time it takes to sweep laterally across the web each time. On the same idea, there are traversing ink jet solutions as well. They again suffer from the points above, and additionally add the time component for the sweep across the web.
The best method that eliminates the weaknesses of the aforementioned methods is the multi-lane intermittent (MLi) TTO system. The MLi incorporates a plurality of print heads to match the number of lanes requiring print. It utilizes one ribbon, to avoid multiple consumables running out at various, unsynchronized times. It is able to print very quickly, since each head can print simultaneously, each covering an area up 100 mm (across the web) x 52 mm (in the direction of web movement). Systems like these may have a slightly higher upfront price, but more than make up for it in much higher uptime and ease of use. Maintenance is fair less, and it requires little skill to perform daily operation functions, since loading a ribbon is straight forward.
Diagraph, An ITW Company is a leading manufacturer and distributor of marking, coding and labeling systems and supplies, and has been in the product identification industry for over 120 years. Diagraph’s products include all-electric printer applicator labeling systems, LINX continuous ink jet and laser coders, large character ink jet printing systems and thermal transfer overprinting systems. For more information, call 800-722-1125, send emails to email@example.com or visit diagraph.com.
No longer is it the case that snacks are packaged specifically for children’s lunch boxes. Today, the snack market is heavily geared towards adults with 94% of adults snacking at least once a day and 50% snacking 2 to 3 times a day.* Snack producers are tasked with changing traditional packaging to address a different kind of consumer.
To stay on top of fluctuating snack market trends, food companies find they need to develop new packaging such as single-serve packs, convenient on-the-go solutions, and sustainable “green” packaging. Aside from creating a trendy and appealing packaging aesthetic, snack packaging frequently requires variable codes such as “Best By” or expiration dates. With consumers growing more and more health-conscious, some code requirements include allergen information, genetic modification information, and country of origin.
Many snack food companies make use of continuous ink jet (CIJ) printing technology to meet these coding requirements. CIJ is cost- effective and has a wide range of fluids to ensure coding adhesion and legibility on both porous and non-porous packaging like cardboard, plastics, metal, glass, or flexible packaging. At a minimum, your CIJ equipment must be able to produce legible and durable date, lot, and identification codes on a variety of substrates. However, there are other key features to look for when selecting a continuous ink jet printer to keep your snack packaging operations in uptime by minimizing maintenance and human errors including:
Given the wide variety of packages and product types at snack food manufacturers, the flexibility offered by CIJ is also considered an appealing benefit. Leading systems’ printheads can be used in any orientation with 360 degree printhead positioning and many can be moved from line to line to accommodate many shapes, sizes, and levels of packaging.
Diagraph offers the Linx 8900 Series CIJ printers to help our customers produce a long lasting, quality mark on a variety of packaging materials. The 8900 Series is designed with many smart, easy-to-use features to keep your production line up and running. Live chat with one of our equipment specialists to learn more. Or, read up on the latest innovations in snack food packaging in our latest whitepaper.
2018: Innovations in Snack Food Packaging
Marking and coding equipment should help contract packagers improve productivity. Diagraph accomplishes this by keeping equipment intervention requirements for our product identification equipment to a minimum.
Diagraph’s coding and labeling equipment runs cleaner for longer between required interventions and withstands wear and tear, increasing its useful life. This leads to greater equipment uptime and a stronger return on investment over the life of Diagraph equipment.
The number of steps required for routine interventions as well as the length of time between those interventions is minimized. Product capabilities like automatic printhead cleanings help keep inkjet coders operating with optimal print quality for longer. Examining consumable replenishment practices and centralizing ink refills or providing a quick turn label stock webbing approach makes required interventions quicker and hassle-free.
Finally, quality materials and thoughtful engineering matter when it comes to the longevity of your equipment. Diagraph’s focus on impact resistant designs – whether it be an inkjet coder or a labeler – ensures long-term product reliability.
After making sure your product coding equipment is properly matched to your application and contract packaging environment, it is essential to make sure your line operators and maintenance staff know how to properly handle and maintain your equipment.
Diagraph’s equipment is designed to have fewer touchpoints to enable hassle-free installation, training and maintenance. These easy access touchpoints minimize the amount of time required and eliminate the need to access the entire system to perform maintenance or changeovers.
Because contract packagers regularly deal with worker turnover challenges, routine training to keep workers knowledgeable and able to be good stewards of your equipment is critical. We offer refresher-level training opportunities with each scheduled service visit from a Diagraph field service engineer. In addition, in-depth training is offered on location or at the Diagraph training facility in St. Charles, Missouri.
Our most successful customers partner with us to regularly evaluate and maintain their coding and labeling equipment. We perform routine equipment assessments, provide regularly scheduled service and develop long-term equipment upgrade plans.
Equipment is kept running longer and the need for unplanned interventions is reduced by staying ahead of wear-caused failures and by properly maintaining equipment. As with all things electro-mechanical, equipment performance will eventually impact production throughputs. We help you navigate the useful life of your equipment to determine when to repair and maintain a system and when to upgrade and benefit from performance and feature enhancements.
By working closely together, our account teams can help you develop a multi-year plan that provides measurable cost savings opportunities due to system efficiency gains and consumable usage optimization. These strategic audits also help customers strategically sequence system upgrades of their older technologies to avoid the sticker shock created if your product identification equipment fails at the same time.
Our goal is to always to make it easy for our customers to make the perfect mark. Find the right product for your application by completing this short assessment.
Call us today at 800.722.1125 to learn more about how Diagraph partners with manufacturers to achieve product identification and packaging compliance success.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is transforming manufacturing and a whole host of other industries. IIoT connects industrial devices that can monitor, collect, exchange, and analyze data, and leverage that data and connectivity to help you make smarter, faster and more effective business decisions.
Chances are, you’re already automating parts of your business -- but IIoT takes automation to a whole new level. Two major IIoT trends to watch for in 2020, according to Mobidev, are wireless connectivity and predictive analytics. If you aren’t leveraging IIoT as part of your marking and coding process, it’s a wasted opportunity.
Centralized printer management software connects wirelessly to your printing and coding equipment, creating a central database so that operators can review printing status and start jobs remotely using their mobile devices – among other capabilities. Centralized printer management software can also track prints and analyze operational history, to deliver valuable insights about your processes.
The robust interconnectedness of IIoT technology such as a centralized printer management system, can innovate the product identification process in a number of ways. For example, imagine being able to run your production processes without having to constantly keep an eye on your coding and labeling equipment.
Some other benefits of centralized printer management software include:
Here’s a checklist of common complexities and pains that manufacturers experience with production. If any of these experiences sound familiar, you could benefit from deploying printer management software in your facility:
Improving manufacturing processes is an ongoing challenge, and IIoT can help. For your marking and coding process, centralized printer management software offers many benefits and seamlessly automates a complex operation.
Take the next step to automating your coding and labeling operations. Try NEXTConnect™ printer management software for free for 90 days. Contact a Diagraph representative today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a trial license.
Errors can create downtime and missed deadlines. In today's environment, extended downtime is not something a company can afford to have happen. It is vital to understand why errors are occurring and to keep those coding errors to an absolute minimum. If an error is made at the start of the process but not detected until the end, the cost of rework and rescheduling reduces profits.
Mistakes can and do happen. Below are some of the main reasons coding errors occur so frequently.
Of course, it is a good practice to audit coding errors and analyze their causes. This can pinpoint clear actions for improvements such as individual or group training requirements or identify which equipment needs updating or replacing if it has become unreliable.
Eliminating 100% of coding errors is not possible due to the human factor. However, with the wide choice of user interfaces on the market, it makes sense to incorporate as many beneficial features as possible which suit your requirements and workforce. This approach helps reduce operator errors and keeps your downtime to an absolute minimum.
Remember, no one piece of equipment is going to solve your coding errors. You will always need good staff training, teamwork and processes. However, a good user interface that guides employees through initial set up can ensure errors are kept to a minimum. This will go a long way to keeping costs low, reducing downtime and most importantly, keeping your customers happy.